Saturday, September 1, 2012

"My sister-in-law, also, is a mother."


In autumn of 1792, the Marquis de la Rouerie (who had fought in the American Revolution under the name of Colonel Armand) organized an insurrection in Brittany with the hope of rescuing Louis XVI.  The King was executed before their plan came to fruition.  de la Rouerie died heartbroken, the insurrection collapsed, and documents related to it were buried in a bottle in a garden.  Through the treachery of a Doctor Chévetal, the bottle and it's contents were unearthed and twelve of the conspirators were condemned to death.  One of the five related farewell letters was written by a Françoise Desilles, aged 24.  Madame Desilles was arrested, in error, but refused to save her life by revealing the name of her sister-in-law, the actual conspirator.  When urged to do so, for the sake of her children, she replied,  "My sister-in-law also is a mother."  The following is Françoise's June 18, 1793 farewell letter to her sister-in-law:  "My lot is cast, dearest.  Do not be grieved, but view the event with as much tranquillity as I do.  It is not without regret that I quit an existence which promised me happy days.  I have one favor to ask,  You know what is the fate of my unfortunate children.  Be a mother to them, dearest;  let them find in you an affectionate and beloved mother.  Adieu, dear.  I will not further prolong the time that I am spending in conversing with you.  I have to approach the Supreme Being, at whose feet I cast myself.  The resignation given me by the sweet persuasion that He will forgive me gives me joy.  Speak of me to my children, but repel all bitterness.  My trials are coming to an end, but yours will last.  Adieu, dear.  Cherish my memory, but do not lament my fate.  I beg you, dear, to arrange with my sisters the education of my children.  They have no resource but you three, and it is to you three that I confide them to serve them as a mother."

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